Georgia’s offense was unable to find paydirt for the second consecutive game, and the Bulldogs (5-3, 3-3) fell victim to five turnovers as they dropped a SEC East divisional contest to Florida by a 27-3 tally at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Junior Faton Bauta made his first career start, throwing for 154 yards on 15 completions but was picked off four times by a stout Gator secondary. Terry Godwin and Malcolm Mitchell each had four receptions in the contest, with Godwin totaling 42 yards and Mitchell boasting 60. The running game never quite found its legs, though, as Georgia was held to 69 yards on 22 carries.
Florida claimed control of the game early, jumping on top 20-0 before the intermission. They were first on the board as a muffed punt at the 5-yard line by Reggie Davis was recovered by the Gator unit in the end zone late in the first quarter. After extending their lead to 13-0 on a 66-yard pass from Treon Harris to Antonio Callaway, the Gators punched in their third touchdown with a short run at the goal line, set up by an interception returned to the Georgia 5.
The defense held Florida off the board for much of the second half, allowing a touchdown at the 7:10 mark of the game’s final quarter. The final scoring drive came after the Bulldog offense appeared to gain some steam, marching into Florida’s red zone before an interception kept Georgia from scoring.
Georgia’s lone scoring drive came after a forced fumble by Davin Bellamy who had a strong game on the defensive side of the ball with a team-high seven tackles. Six plays later, Marshall Morgan split the uprights from 27 yards out to trim the deficit to 20-3.
Sophomore Brice Ramsey received his first starting nod at punter for the Bulldogs and performed well, averaging 43.4 yards per punt on five kicks. Ramsey had one punt on the year coming into the game.
The Bulldogs return to Sanford Stadium for another SEC showdown next week when they will take on the Kentucky Wildcats.
*Points Off Turnovers: Florida scored 20 points off five Bulldog miscues (Fumble recovery of a muffed punt in the end zone and four interceptions, one of them at the 5-yard line). Before today, Georgia’s opponents had scored just 17 points off nine Bulldog turnovers. In the second half, Georgia got a forced fumble and recovery by redshirt sophomore Davin Bellamy at the UF 25. It led to a field goal.
For the year, Georgia is -3 in Turnover Margin. Opponents have scored 37 points off 14 Bulldog miscues. The Bulldogs have scored 37 points off 11 turnovers.
*Mitchell Goes Over 2K For Career: Senior Malcolm Mitchell went over 2,000 receiving yards for his career after a 13-yard catch in the second quarter. He finished with four receptions for 60 yards. At this point, he ranks eighth in school history with 2,050 yards plus sixth in receptions with 155.
*Bauta Makes Starting Debut: Junior QB Faton Bauta made his 1st career start and finished 15-for-33 for 154 yards plus four interceptions. Before today, he had seen action in every game this year but had not attempted any passes. In his career, his only passing came in 2014 (4-for-5 for 48 yards in three games).
*Ramsey Takes Care Of Punting: Redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey handled the punting duties and posted a 43.4 average on five punts. His first one went a career-long 50 yards. Before today, the only time Ramsey had punted in his career was once against South Carolina this year, a 42-yarder.
*For Starters: Junior QB Faton Bauta, freshman DB Juwuan Briscoe and redshirt sophomore Aulden Bynum (at TE) made their first career start today. Georgia now has had 17 first-time starters this year, including seven freshmen. Senior OT John Theus, a native of Jacksonville, owns the longest starting streak with 28 straight and 43 overall). Sophomore Dominick Sanders, who had started every game of his career at CB, saw his streak of 20 end as he was forced to miss the first half due to a targeting call in Georgia’s win over Missouri on Oct. 17.
*Morgan Adds Another Field Goal: Senior Marshall Morgan accounted for a 27-yard field goal, his 56th of his career, moving him in to a tie for fifth in school history with Rex Robinson who tallied that from 1977-80. Robinson was one of two Bulldogs (Richard Seymour) named to the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame Friday and was in attendance today. Morgan is 56-for-73 in his career including 10-for-14 this season. He has 374 points in his career, which ranks fourth in SEC history and third in Bulldog history.
*Last Time It Happened: Senior DT Sterling Bailey blocked Florida’s first PAT attempt. It marked Georgia’s first since the 2014 Ga. Tech game by Ray Drew. Florida led 20-0 at the half, which was the first time the Bulldogs had been held scoreless through the first two quarters since 2012 at South Carolina (USC led 21-0 and eventually won 35-7). Georgia attempted a fake punt in the 3rd quarter that was unsuccessful, its first fake since a successful one against Clemson in 2013 when Collin Barber scampered for five yards and a first down.
*Today’s Captains: Senior Sterling Bailey (DT), sophomore Sony Michel (TB), junior Ryne Rankin (ILB) and junior Leonard Floyd (OLB) served as the Bulldog captains.
*Up Next: After today’s 27-3 loss, Georgia is now 5-3 overall, 3-3 SEC. The Bulldogs play host to Kentucky Saturday, Nov. 7 at Noon (Network: TBA). The Wildcats (4-3, 2-3 SEC) and Tennessee kickoff in Lexington at 7:30 tonight.
Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt
On the game …
“We played hard, but we have to be more productive obviously. Offensively we have to get first downs and we have to get points on the board. We struggled in that area. We couldn’t get much running the ball, and there were some batted balls. A lot of times those things fall incomplete, but tonight they landed in their hands. You can’t do that and beat a good football team. We told them that we have to be men in this situation. We have to give credit where credit is due.”
On Georgia’s running game…
“They are big, strong guys. We have to get our hats in the right spot. We have to create space and read it right and get the ball moving down the field. They whipped us up front, and that’s going to be tough on any runner.”
On Faton Bauta’s performance…
“Faton fought hard, and he’s a very competitive guy and has a lot of outstanding leadership skills. Some balls didn’t bounce the right way. We had a couple of drops and there were some misfires too. We’ll have to look at the film, but overall I liked his competitive spirit and I like the fact that he competed the entire game.”
On the decision to start Faton Bauta at quarterback…
“It goes way back to camp to just how close the competition was, and the fact that you’re wondering if Faton should’ve been the choice somewhere along the way. We gave Greyson (Lambert) an opportunity, and we told him to hang loose. Same thing with Brice (Ramsey). We felt like Faton performed well enough to get the nod, and that’s what we did.”
On Brice Ramsey punting…
“Brice punted extremely well. I’m going to have to go back and look at the reps. The first one was shaky but got a good bounce, and then he started to boom them. He was outstanding for the first time around.”
On defending Florida’s offense…
“I think our defense was tremendous. After a while the dam is going to break when you have to keep going back out there after a three-and-out or a turnover. After a while it’s going to get tough. The last pick in the end zone, we could have gotten it to a two score game. That could have changed the dynamic if the game and added to the energy level of the defense. We threw a pick and it’s demoralizing to the defense to have to go back out there and fight.”
QB Faton Bauta
On his performance against Florida …
“Not good. We lost, and all that counts are wins and losses. It’s not a good feeling. It is something you wish you never have to
experience. It’s part of growing as a person and as a player and we just have to move on.”
On where Georgia goes from here …
“We just have to stick to our guns, come back tomorrow and get ready to work. We have a lot of big games coming up, so we have to be ready.”
OG Greg Pyke
On today’s game…
“When you lose a game, it is always disappointing, especially when you lose to these guys. They have a great team, so give them credit. We shot ourselves in the foot early and could never recover.”
On QB Faton Bauta’s performance …
“Faton did a great job passing. We got in a groove, moved the ball down the field and then shot ourselves in the foot. We have a lot of work to do, but we will learn from this and get better.”
LB Jake Ganus
On today’s game …
“I just think a lot of things did not go our way. We have to go back, watch the film and fix our mistakes.”
On how losing today affects the rest of the season …
“It doesn’t change much. It doesn’t change anything for me personally, and I hope it doesn’t change anything for anybody else. We are going to keep going out there and playing hard every week.”
On where the team goes from here…
“We have so much to play for. Like I said, we are going to keep playing hard and see what we can accomplish this season.”